Ironman World Champion
Marc was born on the 19th of December 1973. He spent his youth playing football, and playing outside; he didn’t like school at all.
One day he saw a program on National Geographic about the Ironman triathlon of Hawaii. This was the sport Marc was going to be best at.
- MENTAL STRENGTH
At the age of 27 he could finally compete in the mythical triathlon of Hawaii, the official world championship of the IRONMAN. As the youngest competitor in the professional athletes group Marc achieved 6th place, and he could have been higher if he hadn’t deliberately held himself back in his best section, biking.
In 2002 Marc was attending a training camp on Lanzarote to prepare himself for the world championship IRONMAN 2002 competition. On the 8th day he fell heavily during a descent. For the following three days Marc was hospitalized in three different countries and three different doctors gave him the same diagnosis, paraplegia; resulting in paralysis from the chest down. The most promising professional triathlete would not become a world champion IRONMAN, but was sentenced to spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. As a former para commando, joiner, volunteer firefighter, and professional triathlete, life seemed to have no purpose anymore. Those depressing thoughts lasted only one day after the operation because Marc’s nephew came to see him. He jumped on his bed hugged him and said “Uncle Marc I’m so glad you’re back”. In that moment, and with those words Marc realized that he was lucky to be alive. Unlike a lot of other people he had been given a second chance, a second chance he could not ignore.
That evening after the visit, Marc looked at his bucket list which he had made before his accident: winning the IRONMAN of Hawaii, driving the Crocodile Trophy, and becoming a father. He decided to fulfill his bucket list with help from his friends and family. Marc started training harder than ever before, reassessing his progress every day, and founded the “To Walk Again Foundation”. After 3rd, 3rd, and 2nd places, Marc’s biggest dream that he had been working very hard for since he was 16 came true. Marc succeeded, despite his complete paralysis from the chest downwards, to be the 2006 World champion IRONMAN.
A year later Marc went for the second item on his bucket list, The Crocodile Trophy; a 870 mile long and arduous mountain-bike competition in the outback of Australia. Marc started as the first wheelchair athlete ever in this difficult competition and drove 10 days later as the first and only wheelchair athlete to pass the finish line.
In the meantime Marc’s “To Walk Again Foundation” gained a reputation as a leading and respectable charity. The foundation offers people sport and constant reassessment to keep them healthy in the short term and prepare them for the long term should there ever be a medical solution for paraplegia.
Presently Marc is one of the most requested international motivational speakers in the world, team-leader of a professional cyclocross team, the man behind To Walk Again, event planner, team manager of an omnium team, athlete trainer, and CEO of 185 Coaching Centre.
Marc will join us at WILL, together with Shirin Van Anrooij on Saturday October 27.